We’ve come a long way since we drove cars like the Flintstones. Now, we have technology-assist features that help make maneuvering a several-thousand-pound vehicle doable. Rather than relying on brute force to turn, power steering enables drivers to turn a car easily while applying much less than the actual required force to the wheel. When a driver turns in either direction, the power steering system applies additional force to the wheels via a hydraulic or electric system. This increases the overall responsiveness of the car.
When this system fails, though, it presents unexpected driving challenges. To learn more, read our guide to several common indicators of power steering problems and their underlying causes.
Squealing Upon Ignition
First, when turning your key, you may hear a squealing sound. While there are other part problems that could cause an unusual sound—a damaged engine timing belt is one—squealing could signal that your power steering belt is loose. If it’s loose or the system otherwise struggles, this indicates an overall power steering failure.
Steering Wheel Vibration
Another indicator of a power steering issue is if your steering wheel vibrates excessively when you turn. This also demonstrates an issue with the power steering belt. When the belt becomes misaligned, engaging it when turning exposes this misalignment and vibrates all the way up the power steering system to give feedback at your steering wheel.
Difficulty Steering Normally
Power steering technology has changed over the past couple of decades. Now, rather than using just hydraulic systems, cars utilize electric power steering as well as a combination of electric and hydraulic. If a hydraulic system is in play, difficulty turning your wheel could be a symptom of low power steering fluid. In an electric-only power steering setup, a stiff wheel could be a sign of a malfunctioning steering angle sensor, which communicates how much assistance drivers need when turning. In both cases, your power steering system needs attention so you can have maximum mobility when driving.
Power Steering Fluid is Leaking
A more straightforward sign you need to see an auto repair shop is if you notice power steering fluid leaking from your hydraulic-driven power steering implements. Leaks can come from your power steering pump, tubing, or steering rack, and the fluid is commonly clear or amber-colored and smells like burnt marshmallows.
Courtesy of autolablibertyville